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Divestment and Bolshevism


A mailing from 'other Israel' informs us that the Israeli 'left' is debating the merits of divestment as a means to change Israeli policy. At a Tel Aviv conference, pious pronouncements declared that divestment is the only way to change Israeli policy.

Among others, the great proponent of truth, light, loveliness and peace, Ilan Pappe, who has apponted himself to the peace camp, gave what he claims are his views:

Dr. Ilan Pappe talked about the ineffectiveness of the peace camp in bringing about a change inside Israel, which "with a heavy heart" leads to the need to appeal for outside pressure. He talked of academics and workers in Apartheid South Africa calling upon the International Community to boycott them - simultaneously with confronting the Apartheid policies of their own government. He said that the call for a boycott against the Israeli policies came from the Palestinian civil society rather than from the Palestinian Authority. He expressed his certainty that initiatives for boycott action will continue to spread, in spite of failures such as in Britain, and spoke of the need to be ready to pay the personal price of speaking out in favour of a boycott.

In the shadow of the spectre of Israeli disengagment (withdrawal) from Gaza, that is about to take place in a few hours, it is somewhat curious that Pappe believes there has been no change inside Israel. However, Pappe's remarks at an earlier workshop sponsored by the BADIL organization reveal the actual reasons for his support of boycotts and initiatives, which have nothing to do with peace or peace camps:

This is part of the summary:

In the past, we used to assume that our struggle has two stages: the struggle against occupation and struggle for a just solution of the conflict and peace. We used to say that the end of occupation will not bring about an end of the conflict, but is a condition for the latter. We had short term and long term objectives, i.e. ending the occupation by means including armed struggle vs. the debate over one- or two state solutions. The idea was that the final settlement should take place in a peaceful context rather than within armed struggle.

Now that we face the paradox of a so-called ‘two-state solution’ without an end to occupation, it may be time to leave this dichotomy behind. This requires a fundamental change in the conceptualization of the reality, which will not be easy, because the predominant structures and discourse is about two states and segregation/separation. However, the powers on the ground which are creating a ‘greater Israel’ of Palestinians, will eventually force us to change our concepts. We must understand that occupation will end only after, or simultaneously with, de-Zionization. Doing away with the old dichotomy will also mean fusing together the struggle to end the occupation and the struggle for return


We must turn the one-state solution into a relevant political agenda, in Israel, the 1967 OPT, in the camps in Lebanon, among Palestinian exile communities in Detroit, everywhere. The task is to transform an intellectual discourse or exercise into a concrete platform. And we must know that all lines with Jewish society will be cut, when a call for sanctions/boycott is raised. But we must also remember that no power from within that can change the current reality, neither from within Jewish society, nor from within Palestinian society in the 1967 OPT.


About sanctions/boycott campaigns as a necessary means:

- The legitimacy of Israel’s regime must be challenged for its racism on the one hand, and its colonialist character on the other. The only way this regime can be brought to collapse is from outside. We have to call for boycott and sanctions against Israel.

- We are dealing with the dismantling of power, and the question is how to convince this power to voluntarily dismantle. I totally agree that something more drastic is needed.


Targets of boycott and sanction should be the state of Israel, but also Zionist organizations and corporations:

- There is corporate responsibility related to sanctions, divestment, boycott. For example, Caterpillar and Intel (on Iraq al-Manshiyya.). Campaigns should also target the Zionist organization (‘National Institutions’), such as WZO, JA, JNF, which are major perpetrators and maintain discrimination inside Israel.

Divestment, sanctions and boycott campaigns should be launched in ways that best fit the specific circumstances of organizers and their constituency...

More at Israel Divestment and Boycott initiatives

What Pappe describes above, is, of course, a classic Bolshevik tactic. Hey, don't knock it! If it was good enough for V.I. Lenin, it is good enough for Pappe.

So it is with a "heavy heart" that we are forced to conclude that Dr. Pappe was not telling the truth in Tel Aviv. His aim, and the aim of the divestment and boycott campaigns that he supports, is not peace nor ending the occupation. His aim is destruction of Israel. Only in the 1984 world where war is peace can such people be described as part of the "peace camp."

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000370.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by Moderator @ 08:59 PM CST [Link]


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Replies: 5 comments

There exists a fundamental difference between what Mr. Pappe & others are seeking, and the anti-apartheid movement re: S. Africa. In the S. Africa there was never any suggestion that the S. African state should cease to exist. However the "Single Staters" (SS'rs)seek in the first instance to end the existance of the state of Israel. Whilst they may not exclaim it they are proposing economic war against Israel and the Israelis, as a response to the failure of the "Arab" military war. It is interesting that none of the SS'rs seem to spend much effort in consdering just how the merger of the two politically, economically, socially, technologically, and legally disparate communities shall be merged into a coherent whole. It would probably result in civil war.
I suspect that for a large part much of the SS'rs activity is little more than intellectual / romantic posturing which the proponents know (and are grateful for) has no chance of occurring.
As has been seen in the last 10 years, loss of access to Israeli markets has resulted in poverty for the Palestinians. Destroying the Israeli economy will only only serve to reinforce that poverty and in all probability encourage Palestinians to seek better lives elsewhere, especially as Iraq settles down and employment opportunities improve. Disinvestment were it to be successful may in fact prove to be the best weapon that the Greater Israel bloc requires to take over all the land between the sea and the river.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 08/16/2005 10:18 AM CST

Rod you are fundamentally mistaken here. The central demand of the ANC and AAM was precisely that the South African apartheid state should cease to exist. The apartheid state was based on the white 20% of the South African population, and the intention was gradually to exclude blacks from any citizenship at all via the bantustan policy. The new South African state is based on universal suffrage. It has a new constitution. While there are continuities between old & new, there has also been a decisive break.

The one-staters as I understand it (or at least one strand) argue that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza strip are effectively ruled by Israel so should be able to elect representatives to the Knesset on the same basis as existing Israeli citizens. That may or may not be a practical proposition, for a variety of reasons, but it is not so far from the ANC position as you suggest.

Jewish State as analogous to Afrikaaner State - discuss....

The same arguments against economic boycotts were also used in the South African contect, of course.

Posted by Chris Bright @ 08/30/2005 04:11 PM CST

"What Pappe describes above, is, of course, a classic Bolshevik tactic. Hey, don't knock it! If it was good enough for V.I. Lenin, it is good enough for Pappe."

Sorry? When did Lenin and the Bolsheviks ever advocate disinvestment? I must have missed something. Examples please...

Posted by Chris Bright @ 08/30/2005 04:15 PM CST

This is a ridiculous article. My understanding is that Bolshevism refers to the strategy of Soviet Communists of gaining power after the Russian Revolution of 1917. What does it have to do with divestment?

Posted by Peter F @ 09/02/2005 09:50 PM CST

The primary difference is that Israel is the military occupier of the West Bank, and formerly Gaza. Under international law it cannot extend citizenship to the inhabitants of the West Bank, for to do so it would mean that the Occupied Territories had become an integral part of Israel. The test of the comparability between Israel and the apartheid South Africa can only be between the internationally recognised Israel and the former South Africa. Comparing constitutions it is clearly evident that Israel is a democracy that affords equality with the exception of the right of return (this however does not differ from laws within other states incl. UK that facilitate the "return" of distinct ethnic groups) On primary representations of the state such as coinage & bank notes, road signs, etc. it is evident that Arabic is afforded status, and that it is not exclusively Hebrew. Compare this with South Africa where the native languages had no legal status whatsoever.
The single staters also want the internationally accepted boundaries of Israel to be eradicated, for a state to be created out of the truncated Palestinian Mandate territories. If the single staters were to logically extend their argument they should also call for the eradication of Jordan and its integration into a a "Greater Palestinian" state. In respect of Jordan it needs to be borne in mind that the Hashemites are even more "immigrant" than the Zionist Jews, as are the Circassians who live in Jordan. If the criteria of recent migrant, or descendant thereof, were to be applied evenly then many Palestinians would find themselves identified as outsiders with little or no claim.
In essence Israel was created out of a civil war between two communities that would not or could not agree to live together in peace. If the envelope of history is extended back into the 18th century then the Palestinian demands / claims become much less secure. We would all do well to start applying consistent criteria to both sides and take an objective stance toward the current situation. If we do not then we find ourselves being used as pawns in a power struggle.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 09/05/2005 12:18 PM CST

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